A Night of Horror is a Sydney-based film festival featuring independent horror from around the world that recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. A Night of Horror Volume 1 is their first full length film, a horror anthology. Bianca Bradley (of Wyrmwood) stars in the wrap-around Life Imitates as a woman who wakes up in a strange building. Going through the building, each room she encounters introduces a new short.
Things kick off with Hum, a not particularly inspiring start as a humming noise threatens to drive the occupant of a flat insane. However, that quickly changes with Point of View, a superbly creepy morgue-set riff on the weeping angels of Doctor Who.
I Am Undone presents us with a gory unwinding of one woman’s various beauty treatments and surgery. An unfaithful woman finds her journey home to her unknowing family interrupted by a disturbing look into a possible future for her in The Priest. Ravenous follows a young girl and her grandmother, who has a taste for raw meat of the kind you don’t usually get at the butcher shop.
Scission gives us the tale of a family tearing itself apart and a father’s descent into murderous madness. Dark Origins leads us into psychological territory as a doctor discovers her patient’s delusions might be the result of something very dark and real from her past. Finally, Flash takes us on a group of friends’ countryside break which inevitably turns grimly sour.
We get a mix of the graphic, the grisly, the psychological and the occasionally darkly humorous. There’s a lot of attention paid to bodies and blood throughout. If being generally resolutely old school can be considered refreshing, then the focus here on creating mood and a sense of unease is mostly just that. Although never reluctant to be gory where needed, it’s never for gore’s sake. Many of the segments eschew cheap jump scares and laboured scare tactics and instead work hard to be actually horrific, as opposed to simply disgusting or obvious.
When the segments hit, as in Point of View or The Priest it can really build a proper shiver or two. Not every segment does work, but at under 10 minutes each there’s no outstaying of welcomes. One thing true of all of them is the shorts are beautifully shot.
Overall it’s a commendable go at the anthology format, taking influences from the earliest days of horror to the present, Night Gallery and more. Though there’s nothing really new here, and nothing really tops that early grim doctor’s shift in the morgue, there’s certainly enough talent on show we can happily recommend giving it a try with the hope Volume 2 isn't too far away.
A NIGHT OF HORROR: VOLUME 1 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: BIANCA BRADLEY, EMILY WHEATON, JESSICA GOWER, KAYLEA CAULFIELD / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW